Growing up in Nevada I can remember traveling through the state for all kinds of reasons. From going to visit my grandma in Fallon, to playing in the All State band in Elko and Ely, I have been all over the state and seen all kinds of tiny towns that each has its own strange charm. I’ve told Cat about some of these places for years, so we thought between Christmas and New Year’s Eve we would take a nice, slow road trip with my mom to visit some of the sites.
Next stop was lunch at the Tonapah Brewing Company. The food was pretty good, and the locally brewed beers were delicious too! We also stopped in at one of the old casinos to look around some..
Next we came upon Goldfield. This is my favorite ghost town in Nevada. Unlike most of these defunct mining towns in Nevada, Goldfield actually had gold! Many people have heard of the Comstock Lode (more on that below), but the original flood of miners to Nevada came seeking gold.
The Goldfield Hotel is definitely a destination for anyone passing through. Originally built in 1908 on the site of 2 previous hotels that burned down, the hotel remained in operation until the end of World War II. The stories about this hotel are plentiful. They say during the opening ceremony champagne flowed down the front steps, and it’s said that numerous ghosts still inhabit the hotel; the most famous of which is Elizabeth.
This is all that’s left of what was once a booming mining town.
Of course Cat continues her tradition of sending out postcards from each place we visit.
We stayed the night in Carson City and made a plan for the following day. First on the agenda was a stop in Genoa at the oldest bar in Nevada; the Genoa Saloon. Most of the places we’ve been visiting have a kitschy charm about them, and the Genoa Saloon is no exception. But it’s also a pretty great bar! They have a pool table, tons of random stuff on the walls (including a bra left by Raquel Welch), a decent food delivery place, and a great bartender. We ended up staying longer than expected and getting in a few rounds of pool.
After leaving Genoa we headed to Lake Tahoe. Known mostly for snow sports in the winter, and lake activities in the winter, we went just to visit some of the shops and have dinner. It just so happens we also caught one of the most incredible sunsets I’ve ever seen.
After some breakfast in our Reno hotel, we headed off to Virginia City. This is the site of the Comstock Lode; the richest silver mine in American history. Even though it was named for miner Henry Comstock, he didn’t actually see any of the money that came from the success of the mine. Before mining began, Henry Comstock and the other original owners of the land sold their stake in the property. Comstock died by suicide destitute in 1870.
The remains of the once thriving city show how much money once flowed through this place. Above you can see the original bar and mirror from the Palace Saloon.
After some lunch in Virginia City we headed across the northern part of the state towards Ely. There is absolutely nothing in the northern part of Nevada. That sentiment is solidified by the nickname given to Highway 50; The Lonliest Road in America.
Before leaving Ely we decided to run around the Nevada Northern Railway Museum. You can walk right onto the tracks, board some of the trains, and every winter they run the Polar Express. They actually take a train up and back for passengers to enjoy a 45 minute train ride complete with the Polar Express children’s story playing in the background and Santa Claus visits right on the train.
And for our final stop, Cat requested we make a trip to Lehman Caves. In the middle of Great Basin National Park you’ll find a small building on top of a hill that provides guided tours to a pretty magical place. The tour through the stalactite and stalagmite filled cave lasts about 90 minutes and takes you through several rooms within the cave.
When the cave was originally discovered by Absalom Lehman in 1885, he allowed visitors access to the cave for a small fee. Included with your visit came a candle, unlimited time in the cave, and the opportunity to break off anything you could as a souvenir. Unfortunately that last part caused quite a bit of damage to the interior of the cave, but as you can see from the pics, it’s still pretty impressive.
I can’t say that a trip through the ghost towns of Nevada is for everyone, but since Nevada is my home state, I have a lot of fond memories in these weird little places. The food is terrible pretty much everywhere, we stayed in a hotel in Ely where I was concerned for our safety, and I have always referred to Reno (the best of the bunch) as the armpit of America. That said, if you’ve got some time, and happen to find yourself near some of these places, it might be worth a visit. The Goldfield Hotel is pretty awesome, Virginia City is nearly the definition of kitschy (they even have wild west shootouts in the summer months), the Genoa Saloon is solid for an afternoon of pool and cocktails, and Lake Tahoe (yes, even the Nevada side) is a beautiful natural wonder. You can skip the northern part of the state. And the eastern part. In fact, maybe stick to Vegas…